In the spirit of celebrating our 20th anniversary all year, we're resurrecting an old series, Day in Little Rock, where various central Arkansans reflect on their memories, pastimes and adventures in the capital city. Up this month is Natalie Ghidotti. Take it away, Natalie.

 

Coming to the tail end of a two-year global pandemic is weird, to say the least. So many things have changed along the way — some for the better and some not so much. One of the brighter moments of the past couple of years has been our increased sense of community. Limited to our homes and not able to see the people we hold dear quickly changed our mindsets.

Suddenly we began to realize the value and worth in being in communion and sharing experiences — no matter if it’s at the neighborhood pool, stopping to chat on a walk, worshiping together or sitting side by side in the school cafeteria. These small interactions along the way were often taken for granted, and the pandemic reminded us how important they are to the care and feeding of our hearts and minds.

Summer 2020, after the pandemic hit, I was scrolling through Facebook and noticed my friend Rodney Block was taking his band’s music to the online community. Like so many businesses, bands were completely shut down with no gigs to book or crowds to play to. If you’ve attended any event in Little Rock, you’ve experienced the magic of The Rodney Block Collective. Rodney is an amazing musician and knows how to bring down the house, no matter if virtual or in person.

The brilliant “Live From the Front Porch” series was a virtual concert where Rodney and crew popped up around Little Rock playing to socially distanced neighbors and Facebook Live audiences. As an extreme extrovert, I was looking for literally anything where I could see and feel a crowd of people, even if they were spread out and masked. I immediately texted Rodney to see when he could come to my cul-de-sac in midtown.

 I can’t even explain the pure joy it was to listen to live music (even if 6 feet apart) and experience real community after three months of not seeing a soul! 

Jump ahead a year to summer 2021, and we were back at it. Rodney and the band played again to an even larger crowd in our cul-de-sac, bringing together neighbors from all over — humans and canines, Boomers and babies. The sense of community was overwhelming when Rodney started up a second line around the circle. “Joie de vivre” was on full display.

A year into the pandemic was teaching us some important lessons about what is most important in life. We were getting back to learning who our neighbors are and how we can help them. We were learning the value of friendships and enjoying more of life’s little moments.

A simple cul-de-sac concert has continued to remind us of a valuable lesson picked up during this pandemic: Spending time with our neighbors is important. For us Gen Xers, we’ve started to catch ourselves sounding like our parents, talking about life “back in the day.” The days when we actually knew our neighbors and felt comfortable asking them to lend us some sugar or feed the cat while we were gone. The days when you brought a casserole over to the neighbor who lost a parent or spent a few days in the hospital.

Rodney’s “Front Porch” series reminds us that knowing our neighbor shouldn’t be a lost art. Knowing we’re here for each other helps us all survive tough times like a pandemic or just a bad day. Our neighborhood concert will continue this month back in front of my house on my favorite cul-de-sac with my favorite people, all thanks to some important lessons learned during some super strange times.